Japanese Idioms: 気が置けない

In general, idioms don’t seem that important in Japanese and they tend to be quite dry. Here’s one that’s a bit more interesting though:

気が置けない (ki ga okenai) - easy to get along with; approachable

Japanese Words: Mutual Benefit

This phrase came up in Japanese class last week:

戦略的互恵関係 (senryakuteki gokei kankei)
strategically mutually beneficial relationship

互恵 was new to me, and it sure seems like a handy word to have in the toolbox.

Surprisingly, goo has a definition for the whole phrase:


Trying to explain the meaning of this phrase in my own stumbling Japanese led naturally to a whole set of nouns that use the “help” kanji 助:

  • 互助 (gojo) - mutual help
  • 共助 (kyoujo) - mutual help
  • 自助 (jijo) - self help
  • 補助 (hojo) - other help (aid)

There you have it. A little help in every conceivable direction (except maybe receiving help without reciprocating?). Nothing too surprising here if you know the kanji (which is precisely why you should!).

More Space for Apps on Your Nexus One

I still love my Nexus One after all these years, but when I run out of space for new apps, I often feel like weeping.

Here’s a handy trick if you’re desperate for a few more MBs:

  • Pick an app you use a lot. Google maps is a good candidate.
  • Find the app in the Manage Apps menu, and click “Uninstall Updates” (bear with me here!).
  • Now find the same app in the Google Play store and upgrade it back to the newest version.

This is totally unintuitive but it works. I freed up 13MBs doing this with Google Maps. What decadence! I’m guessing it works because the apps keep data related to each update lying around (maybe for rollbacks?).

I suspect this trick will work just as well for HTC Desire owners, and presumably for anyone else fighting the good fight against app bloat.

PS. I ordered a Nexus 4 yesterday so my Nexus One will go into a well-deserved retirement soon. It has given me 3 years of good service and honestly, it changed the way I see the world in ways that feel deep and permanent.

Dirty Tricks for Writing Better Japanese

Here’s a nifty trick I’ve been using when writing Japanese emails, etc. Like so many things, it uses the power of Google and is best explained by example.

The Example

Let’s say I’m trying to write an email to a Japanese friend who I recently met up with for the first time in a few years. I want to say something that roughly translates to:

“It was really great to see you recently in Japan. Talking and hanging out with you just like old times reminded me of what a dear friend you are to me.”

A bit soppy, but it’ll do for an example.

So I take a quick stab at writing this in Japanese not worrying too much about errors for now:

この間、日本で会えてくれて、本当に嬉しかったよ。数年振りでも、相変わらずXちゃんと話ができたり、楽しく遊んだり出来たので、やっぱり、Xちゃんは僕の心に親 しむ友達と思えたよ!

Now, I fully expect my Japanese to be filled with grammatical slips and nonsensical bits (history has shown!). Let’s see if we can’t improve on my first attempt.

Kanji Stroke Orders in Anki!

Just a quick note for anyone studying kanji (especially if you’re doing a variant of heisig). You can download a font which includes stroke orders here.

With a simple change to my Anki model, all my kanji cards now include stroke order diagrams. Nice!

If you’re curious, here’s how I changed the card:

Back Template

Include something like:

<span class="kanji"></span>


Include the following css:

.kanji {
  font-family: KanjiStrokeOrders;
  font-size: 150px;
  color: #e56727;

This is for Anki 2.0 by the way, but you could do something similar with earlier versions. The only really critical part is setting the font-family to KanjiStrokeOrders.

Haruki Murakami’s Short Stories - TV People

I’m finally getting to the point where I can start to read a bit of Japanese. That is, I can follow the gist of what I read without constant interruption to look up words and kanji. Actually, I’ve been actively resisting using the dictionary. That’s just not how I read English when I was a kid; and that’s not fun and not the way to stay motivated!

I’ve been reading short stories by Haruki Murakami. I’ve got two of his short story collections, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman and The Elephant Vanishes. At first I went through and read all the super short stories. Ten pages or less was my rule. I find that I can get through these in a single sitting. They’re a nice size, but the stories aren’t all that satisfying. Usually no real plot or character development. What do you expect in 10 pages, right?

Using Your Own Domain With Google App Engine

I’ve just lost too many hours trying to get Infinite Loop to work from my own domain:

The secret is to follow the instructions on this page:

BUT! When you get to the section on CNAME records, the instructions will tell you to create a CNAME record that points to “”. This is a lie! If you point to “” instead, then things magically work.

Words I Should Know but Don’t: Pregnant

No back story, just realised today that I don’t know this word. Here goes:

妊娠(ninshin) - conception

  • 彼女は妊娠したので、健康のことを考えてタバコをやめた。
  • 妊娠している


I never used to be one for making New Year’s resolutions, but last year I made some and now it’s time to be held accountable. I made 2 resolutions:

  • Learn the 常用漢字
  • Do 100 Project Euler problems